Japan’s Yusaku Maezawa raises $20m for first space flight

Image copyright NASA Image caption Mr Maezawa posted photos of his space walk with Nasa astronaut Ricky Arnold on Instagram

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa wants to “desire” to fly into space and has been successful in raising the funds to make his dream come true.

Mr Maezawa posted photos of his space walk with Nasa astronaut Ricky Arnold on Instagram.

With $20m, he raised more than one-fifth of the funds he needed.

He is the first Japanese to have made the flights to the International Space Station (ISS).

In a statement on social media, the 44-year-old said he wanted to show his love for art and nature by exploring the stars and planet Earth.

“We’re leaving them today at 7:24am, and I’ll be posting some amazing and inspiring photos of our adventures,” he wrote in his pre-flight note, adding that the trip would have its own soundtrack.

Mr Maezawa is a designer and founder of the online retailer Zozotown, as well as a film maker and gallery owner.

He aims to expand his fashion line into the space industry and is in talks with a firm to build a space research facility in Japan.

The craft he bought for his space journey was owned by Japan’s transport ministry, reports have said.

Image copyright Nasa Image caption The craft he bought is in the lower left corner of the frame

Mr Maezawa will travel on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on 27 May for the short flight to the ISS. He will join a crew that includes Kate Rubins, an astronaut for Nasa, US, and Michael Hopkins, a Japanese.

The 46-year-old astronaut is one of three American spacemen who left the ISS earlier this month in an emergency purge to load up the spacewalking cargo carriers they are carrying to the station.

If his $20m crowdfunding project is successful, Mr Maezawa will be the first person in history to have paid for a private space trip.

Other travellers and businesses who have paid to fly to the ISS in the last three years have done so in a contest or for a specific reason, including the development of robots and medical equipment.

Last week, a woman called TANYA sailed around the sun on a homemade boat and then rode a horse, which she drove, to her destination.

Her trans-summer voyage set the landspeed record for a privately-built solar-powered craft at 75.37 miles per hour.

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